Archive for the ‘Newcomers’ Category.

Young Attorneys Tell Why They Chose to Start Their Careers in Grand Rapids in this grab LAW Video

Warner’s Kelechi Adibe is among the attorneys interviewed in this great video from grab LAW about what Grand Rapids has to offer young professionals.  grab LAW is an initiative of the Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative to help match minority and female attorneys with law career opportunities in West Michigan. Learn more at and follow grab LAW on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Warner Norcross & Judd is a charter member of the Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative. 

Winners of the 5th Annual Grand Race Road Rally

Nine teams competed in the 5th Annual Grand Race Road Rally on Saturday.  Organized by the Grand Rapids Public Museum for Warner Norcross & Judd, the Grand Rapids Road Rally sent teams racing around the Grand Rapids metropolitan area following clues that lead them to 7 different cultural locations. At each location, the teams had to complete a challenge to earn the clue to the next location.

The first team to finish this year was Team #1 from Fifth Third Bank, competing in the clients and friends division. Coming in first from Warner Norcross & Judd was the Team #8.  Following the Road Rally, the teams gathered at the museum for an awards ceremony, with winners receiving gift certificates from area merchants and loving cups turned on a lathe at the Public Museum.

Our thanks to Gina Bivins, Public Programs Manager at the Public Museum, and all of her staff and volunteers who made the 5th Annual Grand Race Road Rally another big success.

Here are photos from the even.  Click on a picture for a larger view. (Click twice for an even large image.)


• Pictures from the Grand Race Road Rally 2009

For the second year, Warner Norcross & Judd competed in the Grand Race Road Rally, a program created for the firm by the Public Museum of Grand Rapids.  On Saturday, June 13, teams raced across the city following clues and undertaking challenges (if you call eating Lithuanian desserts and Dutch chocolate a challenge), to learn more about the rich cultural diversity of our community.

For more information about the different locations in the Grand Race, click here

Stay tuned for the race video, coming soon.

• The 2009 Grand Race Road Rally

Team OjalaEight teams from Warner Norcross & Judd competed in the 2009 Grand Race Road Rally on Saturday, June 13.  This year Team Ojala – which included Carin and Kurt Ojala, Amy Carpenter, and Connie Kong – defended its crown.  The winners each received some wonderful gift certificates to area restaurants and a trophy that was turned on a lathe at the Public Museum

Modeled after the CBS television program The Amazing Race, the Grand Race Road Rally challenges teams to follow clues to find seven locations in Grand Rapids that highlight our community’s diverse ethnic communities.    

The Grand Race Road Rally is organized for Warner Norcross & Judd by the Public Museum of Grand Rapids.  This year, three teams from Irwin Seating Company, including President and CEO Win Irwin, also participated in the Grand Race.

PassportThe race began at the Public Museum in downtown Grand Rapids, where volunteers registered the teams and Museum staffers Gina Bivins and Chris Carron provided last minute instructions. Passport Each participant in the race was given a passport that held the clues to the seven locations.  When given the word to start, the teams fanned out over the city following the clues to the race locations, which included:

St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church.  Here members of the Lithuanian American Community challenged the teams to taste two scrumptious desserts and correctly name them.

Lithuanian CemeteryThe Richmond Park neighborhood.  Competitors had to find two of the four ethnic cemeteries that lie west of Richmond Park. Competitors discovered the Lithuanian Freedom Cemetery, Ahavis cemeterywhich was founded in 1918 by the Sons and Daughters of Lithuania (a group that is still active in Grand Rapids today) and the Ahavas Archim Cemetery, which was founded in 1916.  Nearby is the Saints Peter and Paul Cemetery, dedicated in 1916 by Lithuanian parishioners at SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, and the Washington Park Memorial Gardens, where many of the Dutch and German Reformed faith are buried.  For more information about, and photos from, these cemeteries, click here.

St. John Chrysotom Russian Orthodox Church.  All of the competitors agreed that this was the most amazing St. John’slocation in the Race.   The church was founded in 1915 to minister to the Orthodox Byelorussians, Carpatho Russians, Galicians, Russians and Ukrainians who began arriving in Grand Rapids and Grand Haven, Michigan, in the early 1900’s.  The original twenty families that founded the church purchased the building from the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Our visit was guided by Father Andrew Keith Lowe, who came from Australia to lead a church in Grand Rapids that is still under the direction of the Moscow Patriarchate (what a small world!).  Inside, the church is filled with beautiful artwork.  There are just two pews in the church.  Father Andrew explained that the congregation stands during religious services.  The two pews are for elderly members of the congregation only.  For more information about St. John Chrysotom Russian Orthodox Church and to see photos of the beautiful artwork inside the church, visit its website by clicking here.

The Cook Library Center.  Operated by Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities, the Cook Library Center serves Roosevelt Park and surrounding neighborhoods that today are home to a sizable Hispanic population.  At the library, teams were challenged to do some sleuthing to identify the streets on which Philanthropist Peter Cook was raised and the immigrant group that once lived in the neighborhood.  Teams also had to identify the artist of the beautiful mural that hangs in the library.  For more information about the Cook Library Center, watch this video.

VanderVeens, on 28th Street.  For over 50 years, VanderVeens has sold Dutch products, including the wonderful chocolates and cookies they shared with race participants.  At VanderVeens, one member of each team had to don wooden shoes and do his or her own version of the Klompen Dance.

African Community CenterThe African Community Center of Michigan and Humanity for Africa, Inc.   The African Community Center supports and encourages new African refugees, individuals, and families to become self-sufficient by strengthening their ability to provide care for themselves and their families, and by advocating on behalf of refugees to enhance positive acculturation.  At the Community Center, Grand Racers had to locate a community garden and find vegetables that would be needed to prepare an African peanut potato stew.  You can learn more about the African Community Center at its website and in this video.

lynches2.jpgAt Lynch’s Lair, in Eastown, members of the Gaelic League in Grand Rapids challenged a member of each team to weave a Bridgid’s Cross.  The first Irish settled in Grand Rapids in 1835.  They came to build a canal around the rapids in the Grand River.  A division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians was established in Grand Rapids in 1883 and remains active today.   

More pictures and a video are yet to come.  Meanwhile, you can see a video and photos from the 2008 Grand Race by clicking here and here.

• International Film Series Promotes Cultural Diversity

Chiaroscuro Film SeriesChiaroscuro, an international film series in Grand Rapids, is in its fourth season of presenting  excellent films.  (  Chiaroscuro’s mission is to promote cultural diversity and awareness through the presentation of international films and round table discussions for the benefit of students and members of the community.

On six Sunday afternoons beginning in January and continuing through April, Chiaroscuro (pronounced kee-ar-oh-skyur-oh) will show an extraordinary selection of foreign films under the theme “Finding Home.” Each of these films reflects some aspect of the process by which people of various origins and cultures find a new place to call their own, whether by their own choice or by someone else’s.

Each feature film is preceded  by the showing of a locally produced film. Following the main feature film, a panel of experts discusses the film for about 20-minute.  Kathy Hanenburg, who chairs Warner’s Immigration practice, and Homayune Ghaussi, an associate in our Southfield office, will be panelists at the second movie in the series, In This World, on February 8.  Following the panel discussion, wine and snacks are served, giving movie goers the opportunity to chat further and to view the art work at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, where the film series takes place.

Each film begins at 2:30 p.m at the UICA at 41 Sheldon SE, in Grand Rapids.  (Map

Warner Norcross’s Entertainment Law Group is among the sponsors of  the 2009 Chiaroscuro fim series.

Here are the six movies scheduled for 2009:

  • Sunday, January 18 Golden Door (Italy 2007) At the dawn of the 20th century, Sicilian widower Salvatore Mancuso (Vincenzo Amato) leaves behind everything he knows to pursue a better life in America in this elegiac immigrant’s tale. Details and trailer
  • Sunday, February 8 –  In This World  (Great Britain 2002) Two Afghan cousins become refugees and embark on a clandestine overland odyssey that takes them from Pakistan to London in this gripping documentary film from director Michael Winterbottom. Details and trailer.
  • Sunday, February 22 – The Daughter of Keltoum (France/Tunisia 2001) Brought up by an adoptive Swiss family, 19-year-old Rallia experiences culture shock after she returns to her native Algeria. (Netflix) Details and trailer.
  • Sunday, March 8 – Fraulein (Germany 2006) Three women in Zurich have one thing in common: a life they left behind in Yugoslavia. Reza has spent 30 years reinventing herself as a single businesswoman. Mila, her employee, longs to return home. Ana, new to Switzerland, comes to Reza looking for work — and maybe to shake things up at the café Reza runs.  Details and trailer.
  • Sunday, March 22 – Bolivia (Argentina 2001) Freddy, a Bolivian exile who’s left his loved ones behind to try his luck in Argentina, takes a job as a cook in a Buenos Aires restaurant, where he befriends an odd cast of characters who become his surrogate family.  Details.
  • Sunday, April 26 – Code Inconnu (Frand 2000) On a bustling Paris street corner, four separate lives intersect, setting into motion a stunning film by acclaimed filmmaker Michael Haneke. Carefully interweaving the stories of a promising actress, her photojournalist boyfriend, a young teacher of African descent and a Romanian illegal immigrant, Haneke crafts a compelling portrait of life in a fractured, lonely world. (Netflix) Details and trailer.

• Public Museum Publishes Field Guide to West Michigan Ethnic Groups

The most frequently asked question when we toured the Newcomers Exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Museum earlier this year was, “how can I get a copy of the exhibit’s guide to ethnic groups in West Michigan.”  At the time, the guide was not available for purchase.  That has changed today. As the flier below announces, beginning today, copies of the Ethnic Field Guide to West Michigan will be available for purchase in the Museum’s Curiosity Shop and on  The field guide was written by Christian G. Carron, Director of Research and Interpretation, and Veronica L. Kandl, Curator of History.

Over 50 separate ethnic groups who call West Michigan home are profiled in this field guide-style book.  Each group has two pages devoted to brief descriptions of the group’s country of origin, its homeland geography, its politics and map.  The guide also depicts the reasons groups leave their homeland and come to West Michigan, and their population size and settlement areas here.  The Ethnic Field Guide to West Michigan is a continuous reflection of the Newcomers exhibit.  Both explore, celebrate and question the multifaceted past and present of ethnicity and immigration in West Michigan. 

Warner Norcross & Judd is pleased to be one of the corporate sponsors of the Newcomers Exhibit.

Field Guide to West Michigan Ethnic Groups